We are living in a world where everything we want is available on our fingertips, everything on our smartphones! Since the digital world is changing all the realms, biomedicine, life sciences and healthcare are not left behind among the various others. The convergence of ever-faster computing, rapidly developing mobile infrastructure, and internet technologies have driven dramatic gains in genomics and high-speed sequencing to synthetic biology, molecular diagnostics, bioinformatics, imaging, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), miniaturization (approaching nano-scale), and the digitalization of medical records has led to an era of exponential healthcare
With the advent of “apps,” there are now over 17,000 health- and medical-related applications for the iPhone and Android platforms alone. The transformation of analog to data, and the speed and access to data—whether in the form of radiologic exam, EMR, or handheld device—are ushering in a new age of digital medicine at the intersection of biomedicine, IT, health data, wireless, and mobile. This convergence has profound implications for the future of exponential healthcare. Medicine will transform from an “art” traditionally bound to the clinic or hospital, to one driven by numbers and quantification as well as crowd-sourced, in the home and mobile on the patient’s body.
- The future of clinicians: While traditional health care jobs won’t change much on the surface, they will be radically different. Doctors, for example, will continue to focus on the health and wellbeing of their patients, but their roles will change. They will make decisions in concert with technology, augmented with up-to-date data about the specific interventions that are tailored to the patient’s uniqueness. Even though clinicians won’t perform work the same way, nothing will replace the importance of humanity, empathy, and compassion—all of which are critical for enhancing healthcare and sustaining wellbeing.
- The future of hospitals: While hospitals will always exist, the patients who use them will be different. Rather than focusing on general medical issues, hospitals will be places where only highly complex and specialized procedures are performed. Localized health hubs will provide more routine care and services. Rather than simply helping patients manage their care, health system leaders will be focused on enabling their wellbeing.
- The future of health plans: Successful healthcare insurance companies will connect consumers to their health care. Along with paying claims, or even perhaps instead of, health plans will connect consumers to health systems, physicians, and wellness programs. In retail, AI helps map the buying habits of each customer. That information is then used to generate highly personalized (and effective) marketing messages. The same thing could happen in health care. Using AI, health plans could help individuals make informed choices about the type of health coverage they buy. Highly predictive technology like this might leverage a much broader set of interoperable data sources and streams, which could help health plans improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and populations.
- The future of life sciences companies: Enabled by personalized technologies, pharmaceutical companies will be able to deliver tailored treatments to individuals, focusing on an “N of 1.” Mass-produced drugs—and the facilities in which they’re made—could become a thing of the past as pharma companies harness consumer data to create personalized treatments. Additionally, MedTech companies will become the vehicles to deliver many of these personalized treatments, collecting vital signs and other crucial biometrics. Direct-to-consumer medical devices are already driving change in the market.
- The future of regulators: Federal and state regulators could become partners rather than traffic cops. Regulators understand that they can be a catalyst, rather than a barrier, to improving access to higher-quality, more affordable health care.
- The future of disease: We won’t be able to eliminate the disease, but technology might help reduce the volume of disease and lessen the severity. We will be able to identify disease earlier, intervene proactively, and better understand disease progression to help consumers more effectively sustain their wellbeing.
As we embark on the future of health, a time where exponential healthcare change can accelerate the pace of disruption in the marketplace, everyone is looking forward to the promise that technology, innovation, and data hold.